…so is dating, life and all the other things we do in waking hours. But self-love…that’s going to kill me. Not really… it won’t actually “kill” me…but it is causing me to realize that I never truly practiced it before. Choosing yourself over someone else may be easy for a narcissist …but for an empath its one of the hardest things to learn – and I don’t know if it ever becomes easy.
Its been almost 2 years since I took back control of my life after a very unhealthy marriage. During that time I have healed from so many things and learned more about myself than I ever knew in my 4 1/2 decades of life to this point. I found a real appreciation for the relationships I hold dear – with my kids, family and friends. But the best relationship I forged was with myself. I started viewing myself as I would my best friend. I began asking myself “What advice would you give your BFF if she were telling you this story about her?” I started wondering why I was so willing to accept being treated badly or not taking care of myself when I wouldn’t want that for someone else that I loved. How could I fight so fiercely for another person that I cared about when they were being mistreated… but justify chance after chance after chance to someone who was hurting me on a regular basis? As it turns out, in the past – I didn’t really love or respect myself much, especially when you consider my history with people who also didn’t love or respect me.
I thought that simply standing up for myself was self-love…but defending myself in the absence of action was nothing more than an unmonitored alarm… it makes a lot of noise but no one takes it seriously after no consequences show up. I always said NO MORE – but stood right in the same place…and more always came.
So the past 18 months has been spent putting myself to the test when it comes to actual self-love. Establishing defined boundaries for what I will and will not accept from myself and others and then following through when life tests me. Folks…its not easy. And its an excruciating task for an empath… someone who hurts when others hurt.
A few months ago I started getting serious about meeting new people with the intention of possibly finding a relationship companion. Although I have certainly dated in the past and been in long term relationships – I have never (until now) embarked on the venture with the knowledge I have today about who I really am, honest self-love, defined boundaries, personality dynamics and most importantly, what I truly want out of a relationship. In the past I was just out there going crazy with anyone I was attracted to that also wanted to go crazy. And in the end what I ended up with – was a lot of crazy. This time its very different… and if I’m honest – somedays I secretly wish for the blissful oblivion that I used to operate under. Sometimes I meet people who are right on so many levels – and I wish so badly I didn’t notice the red flags.
Red Flags & Boundaries
For me, red flags aren’t necessarily a deficiency in another person. In most cases, a red flag is simply a behavior or trait that pushes against a personal boundary that I have for myself, like an age difference outside of my range or someone who likes to go to the clubs a lot. Nothing wrong with them – it’s just not right for me. In other words…my boundaries are for me to honor – not someone else.
Whether its a simple difference in wants or needs, or its a glaring personality deficit … self-love requires that you pay attention and act on your own behalf with conviction, regardless of how much you “wish” things were different.
Trial & Error – Necessary but Sucks
I read a meme the other day that said;
“If you’re not serious about dating, get off of dating apps.”
Wow. But I get it. In fact, I have heard some version of that from several people that I have chatted with, met, had a 2nd or 3rd date with or even explored something more serious for a while. As soon as its clear that its not a fit… all of a sudden I get accused of not being fair or serious. Seriously? How about – I will decide what “serious” means to me.
Look, I’ve been there… and not that long ago actually. About a year ago, I met someone I really felt a connection with. He was probably the funniest person I had ever met, quick witted and playful. He was handsome and easy to be around. His kisses left me light headed and I always looked forward to seeing him again the next time. In my mind, we were headed for a relationship and he had expressed that was what he wanted too. And then, it was over, with no explanation. I was disappointed, but I tried not to take it personally. I wished he had told me why, although in the end it didn’t really matter – I was completely myself with him… so if it was something I did or didn’t do, there was nothing to change. But I never thought he wasn’t serious during our time together – immature about the way he ended it -yes…but I know he was serious, until something happened that told him it wasn’t a fit. I still found respect for his decision – unspoken as it was.
Everyone is looking for something – some have longer lists than others but no one is just out there saying yes to everyone- every time. Some people are figuring it out as they go – like I have done in the past. And some know very clearly what they are looking for and are not willing to settle for less. The hard part is that at least for a little while, you have to get “serious” – submit to the process of getting to know someone – risk possible feelings for someone – before you or they really know if its right. That’s tough, for everyone when it doesn’t work out.
So the next time you meet someone that you really like or feel a connection with – and they don’t feel the same… pause before you take it personally or accuse them of not being serious. Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through and what kind of promises they have made about happiness, self-love and being true to themselves.
~More Self Love Baby Girl